Show Boat OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Chris Lee
  • NY TIMES

  • NY POST

  • DAILY NEWS

  • HUFFPOST

  • VULTURE

Opening Night:
November 5, 2014
Closing:
November 8, 2014

Theater: Lincoln Center Theater / 150 West 65th Street, New York, NY,

Synopsis: 

An all-star cast joins the Philharmonic in a semi-staged production of Show Boat, one of the greatest musicals of all time. It’s one showstopper after another, from “Ol’ Man River” to “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” — and that’s just the first act. Join us for the powerful story, at turns comedic and moving, of the loves and lives aboard a showboat in the deep South and Chicago.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Show Boat

    Tote That Barge, Snip That Book

    Charles Isherwood

    November 6, 2014: Life upon the stage isn’t very wicked, or even emotionally stirring, in the New York Philharmonic’s musically solid but dramatically pallid staging of Show Boat, the venerated 1927 musical by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. In recent seasons, the Philharmonic has presented terrific, almost fully staged productions of such classic musicals as Carousel and Sweeney Todd. It seems almost perverse, then, that when it came time to present the mother of them all — the show that set the Broadway musical on a path to maturity by tackling serious subject matter and integrating song, dance and story with a new sophistication — the company chose to trim its sails and revert to a more staid, minimally staged concert version. It is always a pleasure to hear an orchestra of this stature play great Broadway scores, of course, and the show has been cast with impressive singing actors: Norm Lewis, of Porgy and Bess and The Phantom of the Opera as Joe; Vanessa Williams as Julie; Lauren Worsham (a Tony nominee for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder) as Magnolia; and Julian Ovenden, best known from Downton Abbey but an established musical theater performer in London, as Gaylord Ravenal.

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  • NEW YORK POST REVIEW OF Show Boat

    ‘Show Boat’ still amazing thanks to Vanessa Williams and NY Philharmonic

    Elisabeth Vincentelli

    November 6, 2014: If you love Broadway’s classic scores, there’s no missing the New York Philharmonic’s semi-staged versions. So while the new Show Boat doesn’t always land, there are plenty of swoon-worthy moments — and who wouldn’t want to hear Vanessa Williams crooning while backed by a huge orchestra? Thought so. Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s 1927 work is widely considered the first modern integrated musical, meaning many songs help tell the story rather than being dropped in whenever it’s convenient. It also featured a racially mixed cast and dealt with such sensitive topics as miscegenation— the story spans almost four decades of life and love on a Mississippi show boat, the Cotton Blossom, where blacks and whites, entertainers and dock workers mingle.

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  • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW OF Show Boat

    Lauren Worsham's performance drives N.Y. Philharmonic's revival of 'Show Boat', with Vanessa Williams and Norm Lewis

    Joe Dziemianowicz

    November 6, 2014: Thank heaven that Magnolia is in glorious full bloom in the New York Philharmonic’s Show Boat. Otherwise, conductor and director Ted Sperling’s concert staging is uninspired. But Lauren Worsham, a rising-star, silver-voiced Tony nominee for “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” breathes life into the lovestruck character of Magnolia. With beguiling clarity and depth, Worsham anchors this sprawling tale of hard knocks, racism and love gone wrong. The rest of the cast, including Vanessa Williams (Julie), Norm Lewis (Joe) and Julian Ovenden (Ravenal), need more gravity and emotional shading.

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  • HUFFINGTON POST REVIEW OF Show Boat

    Show Boat Sings (Thankfully)

    Michael Giltz

    November 6, 2014: Show Boat is an excellent show for the New York Philharmonic to present in concert. It's almost absurdly overstuffed with performers, making a Broadway revival dangerously expensive to mount. (Though it was done brilliantly and profitably in 1994 by director Hal Prince.) And it's a landmark show. As the first serious musical, it paved the way for everything that came since. No Show Boat; then no Oklahoma. That's not how artistry works, but you get my point. It's big, it's lavish, it has a cast of thousands and hearing the New York Philharmonic in full glory bursting through this score is a delight. Thank goodness, because a concert presentation of Show Boat is the least favorable to this work and the cast was notably spotty in their dramatics. It's beautifully sung throughout but this Show Boat was rather leaky when it came to remembering lines and crafting vivid characters.

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  • VULTURE REVIEW OF Show Boat

    The Philharmonic’s Uneven Yet Dazzling Show Boat

    Jesse Green

    November 6, 2014: The story goes that the wife of the composer Jerome Kern and the wife of the librettist Oscar Hammerstein II were seated next to each other at a dinner party. An admirer of Show Boat, the two men’s groundbreaking 1927 musical, approached Mrs. Kern and said, “Your husband wrote ‘Ol’ Man River’!” Mrs. Hammerstein, who had heard this a million times before, objected. “Her husband wrote ‘dum-dum-dah-dum,’” she said. “My husband wrote ‘Ol’ Man River.’” It’s funny because it’s true, and also because “Ol’ Man River” is one of those songs so perfect and eloquent, it seems like no one wrote it. Pretty much the entire score of Show Boat feels that way, as if it were made of folk songs. (There is, in fact, a lot of interpolated Americana.) This tends to diminish the sense of surprise one feels upon encountering a work whose original Ziegfeld production was by all reports a shock. Critics and audiences immediately understood it to be a disruption of the whole idea of what musical theater could and should be.

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